How do you bring the outdoors inside?
Is there anything we can use to replicate some of the benefits of the outdoors inside?
Ok so we all remember the school nature tables??? The tables like a museum of bits and bobs that in some cases we were allowed to fiddle and explore in others we daren’t??
Well I have resurrected this for my boys, except they collect most of the bits and bobs they want to bring in and they explore them fully and as they want! I should mention at this point no live animals are brought in, or dead ones, unless they are pieces of bone found…
They have dissected them, drawn them, drawn on them, painted them with water, cleaned them, made playdough imprints, squashed them, crushed them and sometimes put them onto the special shelves to keep.
Ok so these special items tend to be rocks…. oh and one conker…. but rocks, most particularly quartz rocks, which W calls diamonds! (I wish as we find several on every walk!)
We repurposed the table top part of their storage unit we built, added a shelf, books, pots, etc (although given M’s age we have to keep the play dough and pens supervised, or we have wall cave painting!)
So after setting this up for the boys, I started to think about other ways of bringing in the outdoors, for both the children and us as adults. We all feel better after being out and about in the fresh air and exploring nature. What if our home could replicate some of the benefits, for the days when we don’t spend as much time outdoors?
We are a wood fired household so often have escapes of smoke when lighting and reloading stoves in the winter months. The ‘toxins’ in the house don’t necessarily stop there, cleaning products, etc all add to the lists of impurities in the house. So first I though about how best to improve our air quality…..
The easiest thing here is house plants.
NASA have a list of the 10 most air purifying plants, which makes for interesting reading.
I have set about sourcing and buying a few and I have re potted and sorted my sadly neglected plants here at home. I have also started to create small oases of nature in the house. I am starting small in case the toddler catches hold of things and goes into full exploration mode! (Read he is enjoying a trajectory schema at the moment and things get thrown a LOT!)
So we have aloes, newly split up and repotted, cedar wood chips as a pot pourri/moth deterrent, W’s painted rock and a few nice nature finds. As we harvest the willow I shall bring a few bits in to add to the jar, which was a present made by a child I used to teach. The basketry willow buds will burst and look beautiful indoors well before they burst outside!
I also have a variety of other plants…. Paperwhite Narcissi which are in a pot to grow each year and they smell amazing!!! More aloes, which we love for their healing properties too. An orchid, which apparently is a good one to have in the bedroom as it continues to release oxygen throughout the night unlike some plants, and the longest living busy lizzie!
I have recently acquired a baby Chinese money plant (well it cant hurt can it!) this is another air purifying plant. Soon we will be swapping some rhubarb crown for some baby spider plants! These are excellent air purifiers as well and prolific if they like their situation so I hope to add many more to the collection and spread them through the house!! I have even considered trying a bit of Macrame to make some hanging pot holders.
As part of my CPD I have been completing a few courses recently and ‘reading,’ well ok listening to audiobooks. I cant seem to read actual books for long at the moment, something to do with the small people and a wandering tired mind. Audiobooks give me the pleasure of reading on my car rides to work etc. Recently I have been listening to Shinrin Yoku by Dr Qing Li, a lovely relaxing but informative book all about the art of Forest Bathing. The book discusses how our health and the health of the forests go hand in hand. As our forests decline so does our health. It discusses our connectedness with nature and the benefits that go unseen in the forest, from the plants, the soil and the in the air within the forests. Scientifically explaining some of why we feel good after a walk in the forest.
In Dr Qing Li’s book there is a whole section on Tree Essential oils and what happens when they are diffused. For example the use of nature views in pictorial form and essential oils to replicate the outdoors, relaxed patients in a hospital in one of the studies and they as a result healed faster from a variety of surgical interventions.
All of the tree essential oils are anti bacterial/viral and there are many benefits to diffusing them in the home. Including relaxation, mental acuity, and this is something I am reading more about all the time. Not just because I have started using some of our beeswax to make balms etc. So I am planning to resurrect the diffuser and the candles to use them to diffuse oils and scents in the home.
How do you bring the outdoors inside?
Why do you do it? What benefits do you feel there is to doing this, both as an adult and for the children?